A common misconception held among people with drug abuse problems is that they will undergo drug rehab and attain sobriety for life. The truth of the matter is that the success rate of those that have undergone treatment is as low as 5 to 10%. The reason for this lies in the inability of recovered addicts to cope with the triggers present in their surrounding environments once they leave a facility.

Rehab does not guarantee your sobriety. It teaches you how to stay sober and supports you through the process of recovery. Sobriety is achieved when you consistently manage triggers, during and after drug abuse treatment. According to statistics, 40-60% people who are out of rehab are still prone to relapse. This does not mean that the addiction recovery program was unsuccessful. Triggers can be powerful enough to pull addicts right back into their addictions, even after months of treatment.

Managing Triggers in RecoveryNo matter your substance of abuse, or how long you have stayed in rehab, you must train yourself to combat your triggers. This is the key to maintaining sobriety, as triggers are constantly present and must be managed at all times. Even during drug abuse treatment, you will find yourself surrounded by an abundance of temptations, ready to lure you back towards addiction. It could be the stress of the process, your mental condition, or the discomfort experienced during detox. You need to find the right treatment that can guide you through this phase, and teach you how to cope accordingly.

How to Identify Triggers

In order to manage your triggers, you must first learn how to identify them. Your emotional state and physical condition are the initial factors that can derail your sobriety. Negative feelings and a poor state of being can make you feel low and more compelled towards using again.

During drug addiction treatment, you will be provided with substantial counseling on how you can indulge in positive, healthy practices that will lessen the severity of your triggers. But, as mentioned, countering your triggers can only be done if you are able to identify them. Therefore, it is important to recognize the physical and psychological symptoms that indicate a relapse may be coming. The physical symptoms include:

  • Tightness in your stomach.
  • A feeling of nervousness and unease spreading through your body.

As for psychological symptoms, you may experience:

  • Thoughts about how good it felt while using drugs.
  • Memories of your addictive behavior.
  • The desire to feel something “more”.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it means you are facing triggers and need to pull your guard up in order to maintain your sobriety.

Types of Triggers You May Experience

The more you know about your triggers, the better you will be at managing them. There are generally two types of triggers, as categorized by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. These types are:

  1. Stress indicators associated with previous drug experience
  2. Physical exposure to the illicit substance

This usually depends on the environmental factors and settings you are exposed to. If you step out of rehab and live in a same societal setting as before, where the culture of illicit drugs and alcoholism prevails, you are likely to encounter strong triggers. This can also happen during the recovery process: if you are enrolled in an outpatient drug recovery program, and every day you return to the same unstable environment, it will only fuel your desire to revisit your previous compulsions.

Aside from these two general categories, you may also feel the need to indulge in your previous addiction when you see other people using, or come into contact with people that you associate with drug use.

Battling Addiction Triggers

Triggers are personal to each individual, and they are battles that a person has to fight on their own. Your rehab counselor can support and assist you in developing a relapse prevention plan. Drug rehab specialists can educate you about the detrimental effects of drug abuse and help you engage in positive activities. But ultimately, fighting these triggers is completely up to your own determination and willingness to stay sober.

Start with identifying the triggers. The sooner you detect that you are facing triggers, the sooner and more effectively you will be able to fight them off. Stimulating factors that exist in the environment, such as driving past a place that evokes unpleasant memories, are easier to identify. Social triggers are also easily identifiable: they usually occur when you become exposed to your substance of abuse, or watch other people using.

Emotional triggers, on the other hand, are the most challenging to identify and manage. They are complicated and often the most successful in dragging you back towards addictive behavior. The best thing you can do is develop a trigger management plan which highlights the types of triggers that affect you most, which symptoms to look out for, and what measures you’ll take to fight them.

It is also highly recommended that you stay in touch with your rehab counselor even after the drug abuse treatment ends. You can always find relief in their support, as they will help you better understand your struggles and keep you on the right track.

Getting the right help is all too important in maintaining long-term sobriety. At Scottsdale Recovery Center, we provide our customers with complete support, both during and after treatment to ensure that they’ve developed the proper habits and mechanisms to keep going on their own. To know more about our services and aftercare plans, contact us today at 1.602.346.9142 (1.888.663.7874)


Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.